News / Europe

Russians Protest Corruption, a Hot Election Year Issue

A member of the opposition holds a banner at a protest near the Kremlin, April 16, 2011. The banner reads, "Thieves should go to jail" and displays images of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.
A member of the opposition holds a banner at a protest near the Kremlin, April 16, 2011. The banner reads, "Thieves should go to jail" and displays images of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

Multimedia

Audio
James Brooke

Two anti-corruption rallies were held Saturday afternoon in Moscow.

Russians turned out on a sunny Saturday afternoon in Moscow for two rival protests against corruption, the top issue on voters minds in this election year according to polls.

This tale of two protests speaks volumes about the state of democracy in Russia - 20 years after the fall of the Soviet Union.

The state threw its weight fully behind the official anti-corruption protest.

One day in advance Moscow  officials blocked off a one kilometer long avenue for the demonstration. The avenue was conveniently located between a 10-lane highway and transit center with two subway and three commuter rail stations.

Chartered buses brought in participants, who were issued flags, banners and crisp white "anti corruption" aprons. Numbering in the thousands, they then marched in groups into the protest zone. There, eight massive video screens and a powerful music system thumped out techno music and anti corruption messages.

Each unit chanted its place of origin, in this case Moscow.

The protest was organized by Nashi, widely seen as a youth wing of the ruling United Russia party.

To fight corruption, Nashi asked protest participants to videotape teachers, doctors, policemen, and other government employees asking for bribes. Then participants are to post the videos on a new "White Apron" website.

Daniel Semyonov, a lawyer, was directing young people to the protest from a subway station. He said that corruption is now everywhere in Russia.

He said that Nashi’s new anti-corruption campaign had nothing to do with parliamentary elections in December and presidential elections next March.

Four kilometers across town, leaders of Russia’s political opposition held their rally on Bolotnaya Ploshads, literally Swamp Square. They were allotted a small corner of a park, formed from reclaimed river land, a 20-minute walk from the nearest metro station.

In contrast to the official demonstration, the area was surrounded by prison buses and riot police.

Andrei Alatin, the director of an advertising agency, said he had not been to a demonstration in 15 years. But he and his wife came Saturday because they feel that corruption is rotting Russian society.

He said that 20 years ago, children wanted to become businessmen. Now they want to get rich by becoming government officials. He said the only solution for Russia would be a real dictatorship or real democracy - not the "Potemkin village" democracy of today.

No one interviewed at this rally believed that Prime Minister Vladimir Putin or President Dmitry Medvedev are interested in fighting graft in Russia. One man held a sign saying: "Russia rots from the Kremlin" - a play on the saying that a fish rots from the head.

A favorite chant was to call the ruling party, "the party of thieves and swindlers."

In this atmosphere, Boris Nemtsov, a rally leader, said the Kremlin had hastily organized the official anti corruption rally.  He drew a rare laugh when he ridiculed Prime Minister Putin.

He said, "Putin against corruption - is like alcoholics against vodka."

This rally ended peacefully, with policemen barking directions through megaphones to herd the estimated 1,000 attendees to the distant subway station.

At the end of the day, a convoy of 10 Nashi buses could be seen heading south from Moscow, lead by a police cruiser escort.

You May Like

Israelis Quietly Expand Enclave in Palestinian District of Jerusalem

Estimated 500 settlers, armed or protected by paramilitary police, live in Silwan among 50,000 Palestinians More

Video US, Iran Face Similar Challenges in Syrian Fight Against IS

Both Washington, Tehran back fighters battling Islamic State militants in Iraq -- but in Syria they support opposing sides in country’s civil war More

China Boosts Efforts to Help Afghan, Regional Stability

Observers say China’s increased regional involvement are due to concerns that Afghan instability and the presence of anti-China militants in Pakistani border areas could fuel Xinjiang troubles More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid